In the Evening (2018) 6'00"
In the Evening is inspired by the gorgeous and intoxicating world of Barbara Strozzi’s L’eraclito Amoroso (Udite amanti). It begins where L’eraclito Amoroso ends - with the same bassline heard in the therobo. While L’eraclito Amoroso is a dramatic display of love that is lost, In the Evening is the faint echo of the love that once existed. Fenton Johnson’s words are elegant and lovely, but the music is tinged with the heartache of what’s to come when love is no more. A simple bassline and countermelody complement the mezzo-soprano, leaving ample room for interpretation by the continuo instruments.
"In the Evening" by Fenton Johnson
In the evening, love returns,
Like a wand’rer ’cross the sea;
In the evening, love returns
With a violet for me;
In the evening, life’s a song,
And the fields are full of green;
All the stars are golden crowns,
And the eye of God is keen.
In the evening, sorrow dies
With the setting of the sun;
In the evening, joy begins,
When the course of mirth is done;
In the evening, kisses sweet,
Droop upon the passion vine;
In the evening comes your voice:
“I am yours, and you are mine.”
Songs for Sara (2017) 16'00"
“Songs for Sara” sets three poems by American poet Sara Teasdale for two classical guitars and mezzo-soprano. Relatively unknown, Teasdale’s work expresses the restrained passion often depicted by her contemporaries in the late 19th Century. Her words are lyrical and emotional, and often express distinct sentiments of love and yearning.
The thread that connects each of the songs is the idea of dreams in the poems themselves. “The Kiss” presents a speaker who has found love, yet she is remorseful of the dreams she lost in the process. “House of Dreams” explores a similar concept, but this time, the speaker is directly addressing her beloved. The song cycle is broken with a short instrumental “Interlude” after “House of Dreams”. It acts as the musical depiction of the inner turmoil and frustration of the speaker/Teasdale, if you read between the lines. The song cycle concludes with the contemplative “What Do I Care?”. Here, we experience a breakthrough with our speaker: she accepts her present state of love as a fleeting moment, knowing she needs the eventual pain that accompanies heartbreak for her songs.
The musical thread connecting the songs is the “dream” motif, first heard in the instrumental interlude in the middle of “The Kiss”. This motif returns in various forms throughout each song, sometimes as briefly as a measure. The music in “Songs for Sara” harkens back to Americana music, weaving simple melodies and harmonies throughout the vocal line and two guitars.
Premiered on May 25, 2017 by SopraDuo: Alexandra Iranfar (mezzo-soprano and guitar) and Tim Sherren (guitar) in collaboration with the Guerrilla Composers Guild.
“The Kiss” by Sara Teasdale
I hoped that he would love me,
And he has kissed my mouth,
But I am like a stricken bird
That cannot reach the south.
For though I know he loves me,
To-night my heart is sad;
His kiss was not so wonderful
As all the dreams I had.
“House of Dreams” by Sara Teasdale
You took my empty dreams
And filled them every one
With tenderness and nobleness,
April and the sun.
The old empty dreams
Where my thoughts would throng
Are far too full of happiness
To even hold a song.
Oh, the empty dreams were dim
And the empty dreams were wide,
They were sweet and shadowy houses
Where my thoughts could hide.
But you took my dreams away
And you made them all come true -
My thoughts have no place now to play,
And nothing now to do.
“What Do I Care?” by Sara Teasdale
What do I care, in the dreams and the languor of spring,
That my songs do not show me at all?
For they are a fragrance, and I am a flint and a fire,
I am an answer, they are only a call.
But what do I care, for love will be over so soon,
Let my heart have its say and my mind stand idly by,
For my mind is proud and strong enough to be silent,
It is my heart that makes my songs, not I.
The Little King (2017) 9'00"
The Little King was the final product of a 48-hour collaborative project hosted by the scrappy San Francisco-based company, Opera Theater Unlimited. Six teams comprised of librettists, composers, musicians, and directors works for two straight days to create an entirely new short opera.
I was paired with an improve writing group, three sopranos, one pianist, and one stage director. The Little King tells the story of a horrible brat of a child who's mother deserves better. With the help of a quirky magician, the mother's dreams come true. Premiered April 20, 2017.
Emma Logan - composer
Adrian Vazquez, Karen Sandvoss, Kendra Lugo, and Brad Jonas - librettists
Ted Zoldan - director
Amy Foote, Allie Mazon, and Reagan Shrum - sopranos
Brian Fitzsousa - pianist
Songs from The Book of Light (2017) 9'00"
Songs from The Book of Life sets three poems by African American poet Lucille Clifton for soprano and piano. The set of poems tell the story of a woman growing older, reflecting on her time with a mix of emotions, from regret to anger to calm acceptance. Commissioned by Ensemble for These Times.
Premiered on June 11, 2016 by Nanette McGinness (soprano) and Dale Tsang (piano).
Recording by Winnie Nieh, soprano and Paul Dab, piano on November 3, 2017 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
"climbing" by Lucille Clifton
a woman proceeds me up the long rope,
her dangling braids the color of rain.
maybe i should have had braids.
maybe i should have kept the body i started
slim and possible as a boy's bone.
maybe i should have ignored the bowl in me
burning to be filled
maybe i should have wanted less.
the woman passes the notch i notch in the rope
marked Sixty. i rise toward it, struggling,
hand over hungry hand.
"it was a dream" by Lucille Clifton
in which my greater self
rose up before me
accusing me of my life
with her extra finger
whirling in a gyre of rage
at what my days had come to.
i pleaded with her, could i do,
oh what could i have done?
and she twisted her wild hair
and sparked her wild eyes
and screamed as long as
i could hear her
This. This. This.
"she lived" by Lucille Clifton
after he died
what really happened is
she watched the days
bundle into thousands,
watched every act become the history of others,
every bed more
but even as the eyes of lovers
strained toward the milky young
she walked away
from the hole in the ground
deciding to live. and she lived.
Even Though I Don't Miss You (2015) 11'30"
Even Though I Don't Miss You sets five poems by American and Bay Area native Chelsea Martin for soprano and piano. Together, the poems tell the story of heartbreak during the age of digital communication. At times, Chelsea's words and sentiments are incredibly funny; at other times, they are sad and completely realistic. Commissioned and premiered by Jill Morgan Brenner (soprano) and Anne Rainwater (piano) for the inaugural Poetry Project on September 12, 2015.
"I am the strong" by Chelsea Martin
I am the strong, female lead in my own currently-in-development novel,
and I can do anything I put my mind to, even if it is remaining in a very
difficult and frustrating relationship with low emotional pay off.
Not that that’s what’s happening.
"I said, you said" by Chelsea Martin
I said, “When did you first know that you liked me?”
You said, “I don’t know. I’ve always liked you.”
I said, “But when did you first know that you wanted to date me?”
You said, “I don’t know.”
I said, “Do you want to know when I first realized I liked you?”
You said, “I’m halfway asleep.”
"Is it overbearing?" by Chelsea Martin
Is it overbearing of me to text you more than once per year asking if I still have the correct phone number?
If you don’t respond, what is the maximum number of follow-up texts I can send within the month?
Does this number change if I email instead of text?
What if in the emails I mention that I have a bad feeling about the state of your health because I haven’t heard from you?
What is the maximum number of times I can contact you per year confirming your contact information? I’m just asking.
When I texted you about my party, you texted back, “Who is this?” and I didn’t respond and you didn’t come to my party.
"The Loosest Grasp"
Anyone with the loosest grasp of the theory of evolution should have known that I was bound to pick up the phone at this time each night and scroll through my contact list just to see your name float across the screen as if this is some kind of concrete proof that you still exist in the world, as if that indicated that you were somehow taking part in this lonely internal struggle.
"Past, Present, Future" by Chelsea Martin
This is how you can enjoy the present while dreading the future, regretting the past, and not even honestly enjoying the present.
War Letters (2015) 25'00"
The inspiration for War Letters began in the summer of 2014 during a casual conversation with one of my roommates. When searching online, I stumbled upon the work of Andrew Carrol, and author and the founder of the Legacy Project. The Legacy Project began in 1998 with the intention of collecting and preserving the letters from Americans serving in wars. Since then, over 50,000 letters have been collected from attics and basements across America. These letters offer a unique perspective and insight into almost every major war America has participated in.
Out of the 200 letters published in War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars, I chose to set four, each from a different war - the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. Each one offers a very different emotional experience when faced with the troubles of war, from anger to acceptance, joy to sorrow. This piece is dedicated to the veterans everywhere, especially the ones I've known in my life - Arthur R. Suppona, Walt Zozula, Geoggrey Godliman, my grandfathers Dominic Pezzopane and Robert Augustus Logan, and my father Louis Logan.
Written for my graduate thesis from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Premiered on May 9, 2015 by Jasmine Johnson (mezzo-soprano), Kelly Corso (baritone), Patrick Hagen (tenor), Kevin Kyle Gino (tenor), Clare Armenante (violin), Anna Bush (clarinet), Pecors Singer (cello), Kangmin Shin (piano), and Tyler Catlin (conductor).
A Little Garden (2015) 3'00"
A Little Garden sets a poem by British poet Beatrix Potter, one the most beloved writers and illustrators of children's books from the 1800s. Known more for her favorite creations, including Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck, and Benjamin Bunny, Potter's A Garden offers a slightly different perspective of her incredibly imaginative mind. When reading this poem, one can't help by picturing small children playing in a garden - stomping in puddles and learning to care for things that grow. Written for the 6th Biennial Art Song Competition at the San Francisco Conservatory. Premiered by Siobhan Raupach (soprano) and Michael Delfin (piano) on March 18, 2015.
"A Garden" by Beatrix Potter
We have a little garden,
A garden of out own,
And every day we water there
The seeds that we have sown.
We love out little garden,
And tend it with such care,
You will not find a faded leaf
Or blighted blossom there.
Black Sea (2011) 6'00"
My first art song ever set the poem Black Sea by American poet Mark Strand. Many of his poems are nostalgic in tone, evoking the bays, fields, boats, and pines of his childhood on Prince Edward Island. I was drawn to the imagery Strand words provoke and chose an unusual ensemble to accompany the vocalist. Premiered on April 28, 2012 by Amy Dykstra (soprano), Christie Glaser (flute), Colleen Grande (clarinet), and Natalie Kimball (bassoon).
"Black Sea" by Mark Strand
One clear night while the others slept, I climbed
the stairs to the roof of the house and under a sky
strewn with stars I gazed at the sea, at the spread of it,
the rolling crests of it raked by the wind, becoming
like bits of lace tossed in the air. I stood in the long
whispering night, waiting for something, a sign, the approach
of a distant light, and I imagined you coming closer,
the dark waves of your hair mingling with the sea,
and the dark become desire, and desire the arriving light.
The nearness, the momentary warmth of you as I stood on that lonely
height watching the slow swells of the sea
break on the shore and turn briefly into glass and disappear ...
Why did I believe you would come out of nowhere? Why with all
that the world offers would you come only because I was here?